Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
Starfall Year 835, 7th of November.
Half a year passed in the blink of an eye.
Six months, a hundred and eighty days. Though it sounds long, it was one of the most precious and homely instances for both peasants and extraordinary individuals whose lives became more and more comfortable amidst the Great Mana Tide even as they enjoyed a peaceful six months without war. Yet, in that brief instant, many memorable events transpired.
The first came at the end of May, with the Seventh Imperial Prince Arlwa Diamond taken in as an apprentice by the new Imperial Legendary, the Northern Liege Joshua van Radcliffe. While it was an after-dinner topic for the peasants, it was an incredible news to the many nobles and the aristocratic ladies of Morlaix Palace. It meant that the Seventh Prince’s position was raised exponentially and insured—even if Arlwa had no way of becoming Emperor in the future, he was worth their investment being an apprentice of Legendary champion alone.
However, Dimore, his competitor who had seemingly failed was not belittled, since that Northern Count had once mentioned in a private gathering with the Kaos couple that the Second Imperial Prince was supremely talented—it was a mere difference in ideals that prevented him from being accepted. To be flattered so formally by a Legendary champion, not to mention his previous performances with the armor, Dimore’s chances were unquestionably evident.
The second event was the reclaiming of Ruhr City by the Far Southern Kingdom in the middle of June.
Two years ago, on the twelfth of March in the Starfall Year 833, the Ruhr port became the final coastal city of the Far Southern Kingdom to fall under the encirclement of over ten thousand berserk dragons. Acid and flames blanketed the region within a thousand miles, leaving ashes and white land where not even weed grew. Now, two years later, the army of the Far Southern Kingdom who slowly emerged from the agony wrought by the draconic plague cleared off many remaining marine beasts and wyverns remaining amidst the debris of the port, reclaiming what was left of those cities.
While those settlements were completely destroyed up to the point where what was left became uninhabitable, it remained the homes of many refugees in the Far South. At the same time, news of complete reclamation of their borders greatly aided the Far Southern Kingdom in stabilizing unrest within the nation. However, after the sovereignty of the royal family had been greatly shredded and were virtually unable to command the various armies stationed in different fortresses, they issued the most profound and final order in the last two years—a decree for frontier autonomy.
In layman terms, the decree that was written with nonsense and complicated honorifics simply meant ‘we give up’. The Far Southern Kingdom no longer had the ability to rule over the South and coastal borders where the dragons trampled, and neither did they have the ability to rebuild local cities and villages nor assemble more than five hundred subjects to maintain order. Now, everyone ranging from adventurers, mercenaries, free folk, former nobles, criminals and even foreigners were automatically promoted as nobles of the Far Southern Kingdom thanks to the decree—one high sanctity was acknowledged by both the Seven Gods Church and the kingdom, which in turn meant that even the gods recognized it.
The moment the decree was issued, virtually all who had certain ambition and ability came from all corners of the world like sharks that smelled blood. Each of them could taste the scent of the weak Far Southern Kingdom and the possibility of realizing their desires, and it had to be said that the decree was a genius idea to a certain point of view. Three months after it was issued, the far southern domain that was immeasurably broken and had nothing apart from ruins regained some initial liveliness due to mass immigration—according to estimations made by the Eastern Plains mages who specialized on such fields, the South would recover certain vigor and returned to order, although the Far Southern Kingdom would hold no control over the region when that time comes.
July. Compared to their human neighbors who lived in the flatlands, the elven race that lived at the southern mountains and the southwestern swamp regions were much quieter. Though the berserk dragons had dealt significant damage upon the elven cities and villages around the Silent Forest, the elves that lived sporadically in the first place did not suffer as much. Additionally, the dense forest regions of the continent had never been an advantageous region for the dragons since they were creatures that lived on hilly landscapes, which was why they quickly returned to order after the war.
Nonetheless, the elves who never had any presence to speak off unveiled a news that was rather hazy in its significance: after a monumental and mysterious ritual, the Elven Court announced in the heart of the Eternal Lake that they had received anew a blessing from the ancient deity and elven creator [Father Nature]. An enigmatic seedling of a plant they called the ‘World Tree’ was sowed by the elves at the heart of nine Mother Lifetrees, now a new Holy Land for the elves.
As such, all the elven tribes wandering across different parts of the world sent their envoys—even swarming towards the Far South in a pilgrimage, with a warmth originating from the deepest parts of their veins driving these beings who set quiet and elegance as their norm making the ‘impulsive’ choice with no hesitation.
It was a quiet two months come August and September. The entire continent was preparing for the harvest between summer and autumn, and the only thing worth mentioning in that period was that the West Mountain subterranean races had finally ended their civil war. They sent one envoy after another to interact with the world above ground as these races that possessed exquisite craftmanship and ancient spells inherited from the previous era prudently touched the unfamiliar world above ground.
In October, news from the Eastern Sea grabbed all headlines in the Mycroft Continent. Due to the shift in tidal waves, the five major murloc tribes that lived around the depths of the Eastern Sea were forced to migrate away for the calmer oceanic flow of the eastern coasts. There were hence inevitable clashes with the coastal cities of the Eastern Plains, with the famous Sea Dragon Knights standing off against the murloc’s elite marine bestial legion for more than half a month—until the higher-ups on both sides held a secret seven-day summit in the Skypiercing White Tower. The result of the summit resulted in the murloc tribes pulling out of the Sapphire Port-Sea Dragon City region, while Legendary mage Barbarossa displayed his power and raised the continental frame alongside murloc priests, creating five artificial islands as the murlocs’ new habitat.
Even so, some humans and murlocs allegedly remained unhappy with the outcome and yet the leaders of both sides somehow synchronously suppressed those dissenting voices. It was as if something huge was brewing amidst the peace, just like the tidal flow in the depths of the sea—genuinely existing yet unobservable from the surface.
In the guest hall of Moldavian Liege’s Residence in the North, Joshua, who had rested in his home for more than half a year looked up from the newspapers. He leisurely put one foot over the other, putting the question lazily towards the man who was sitting opposite to him. “What could make the murloc high priest Godard, Barbarossa and Vahina, Magi of the Oceans willfully sit down and negotiate, instead of kicking up a grand storm that would engulf the entire eastern sea?”
“Alright, my friend—don’t find topics so harshly.” The middle-aged man sitting on the other end of the guest hall whose facial features resembled his old appearance as usual did not even raise his head. The Legendary mage had taken out a thick and heavy purple grimoire with golden trimming and was writing furiously over it, before answering carelessly. “You know very well why they held back.”
“Well, I am really rather curious.”
Shrugging, Joshua handed the newspaper to Ying on one side, while the silver-haired girl also respectfully presented her a cup of tea. After having a sip of the drink that was now meaningless to him, the warrior did not press Nostradamus since he was aware that he was deliberately seeking a topic out of nothing—the reason why Barbarossa and the others stopped was obvious, for it was precisely due to the Multiverse dimensional anomaly soon to come.
The history of the world had shifted significantly due to his very existence. In the original history, the Eastern Plain had only recently banished the final remnants of the draconic plague, while the heavily maimed Mycroft Continent behaved very vigilantly against the subterranean races who suddenly appeared—the dark elves and the gray dwarves. On the other hand, the aggressive murlocs that saw the weakening of the surface dwellers adopted an even more direct and history approach. Hence, as the three Legendary champions stayed alert and probed each other in the far western seas, a tidal wave that destroyed several cities and middling murloc tribes, which made the murlocs and human waves to be antagonistic towards each other until the demonic invasions.
And now, with Joshua’s existence, there was a vaccine for the berserk dragon plague from the very beginning while the cultists’ pestilence was subjugated. The entire Mycroft Continent hence was not dealt a severe blow due to the schemes of the Pentashade dragons, the Abyss or the Evil God cults, and with a notable force as deterrent, the subterranean races and the murloc tribes naturally did not behave too belligerently, causing the sworn enemies to now become cool yet prudent neighbors.
Furthermore, Legendary champions such as Nostradamus never existed before. Thanks to the active involvement of the archmage who mastered the dimensions, the Northern Empire had discovered the dimensional anomaly early on, which certainly diverted the attention of every other Legendary champion and temporarily pause their vigilance against each other.
“We’re only leaving after the end of the year, huh.”
Joshua groaned with a low voice as he recalled the news he brought especially to the North. He knew that it was the right decision as each faction was at their busiest at the end of each year since every nation on the continent was prepared to weather the winter, while the murlocs would dive into the warmer deep seas. It would only bustle after the year, and solely then would each Legendary champion who presided over each country had the free time to explore ruins in the Void.
In fact, Joshua was assuredly impatient. The peaceful half-year period was certainly alright for him, having recently led the liege’s residence party for a trip in the Eastern Plains which did count as a little adventure, although such little escapade would not satisfy him—the warrior who had rested for some time keenly anticipated the arrival of the next battle.
Rhythmic and distinct door knocks wafted from the huge doors of the guest door, but neither Joshua nor Nostradamus were surprised. The warrior gestured for Ying to open them, which the chief maidservant who was becoming more and more duly diligent did elegantly.
A blond youth with blue eyes entered rather anxiously. He held a pile of papers over his chest even as he bowed respectfully towards the trio present in the guest gall.
“Master, Master Nostradamus.”
“Come, Arlwa—there’s no need to be so stiff.”
Joshua waved his hand, allowing the youth who was pressured by the might of two Legendary champions to the point of softened legs to approach him and subsequently taking the pile of papers directly and began to read it seriously. Despite Joshua’s current speed of information processing, the only reason he could not finish reading the drafts in the hundredth of a second was because the papers were not augmented. So, in seconds, the warrior nodded in satisfaction after he finished going through the drafts and returned them to Arlwa.
“Your homework is fine—your preparation for politics, history, mathematics, philosophy, the origin of extraordinary powers and live combat topics all pass. But you’re now planning to hunt an Ice Sea Shark-Lizard? It is a high-tiered magical creature amidst the Lost Sea which could be difficult for you.”
“No, Master.” Even if he had been a little nervous in the beginning, Arlwa had become clearly used to that sort presence after training for half a year. He took a deep breath to calm himself, before proceeding to explain in detail why he picked that hunt. “You have taught me ‘Life Sublimation’ and the ‘Combat Aura Steel Armor’ Kokyu-Ho which allows me to temporarily activate the searing heat in my blood, and the Flame Clothing that allows free movement by condensing itself to nullify the effects of extreme-cold environment. My friends at the First Party has also prepared bait to lure the Ice Sea Shark-Lizard ashore, and with us five working together there wouldn’t be any problems with killing one.
“Still rather crude, but that’s an idea.”
Joshua nodded, seemingly unable to raise objection. He did not reprimand him much, merely waving his hand again to indicate his agreement.
“Alright, go prepare—I await your success. Just remember that it’s nothing too monumental in failure, but I must also remind you: Shark-Lizards only move in packs of four to five, the single-duel scenario you meant basically does not exist.
“You’re afraid of failure from going too fast? There’s a proverb in the North: Without the bees of spring there wouldn’t be flowers in the summer, not to mention fruits in autumn.”
As Arlwa left the guest hall a little disappointedly, his hushed conversation with the First Party which consists of the siblings Ivan and Amelia, as well as Karin and Nick could be heard from the corridor. Nostradamus looked up then, his brow tightly furrowed as if in uncomfortable. “The ability threshold you instructed those little fellows with is too high. It’s also entirely a portion of your extended ‘Legendary Divine Power’—that’s really dangerous.”
The old mage was right. These apprentices Joshua had initiated into a more mature five-person party for half a year had largely grasped the special powers Joshua granted them through long-term planning and fundamental teachings and live combat training. The underage youths hence now had the ability to besiege a Silver-pinnacle—even early Gold high-tier monsters, and the source of their power were ‘accomplishments’ Joshua gained by analyzing his own body. While the power of Legendary champions was great the difficulty to grasp it was inconceivable—to them who had not reached Gold-tier, they could very well cause their own doom in a moment of careless.
“Even so, there have to be seedlings if I am to weed,” Joshua replied, answering the old mage’s doubts with a proverb only he understood. Then, stroking the head of the docile Ying beside him, the warrior shook his own. “I won’t use such radical methods if it were normal people since it would only harm them. But those little fellows who could clear the trial of the Divine Dungeon Shroud are definitely not normal, and neither is Arlwa pure human. Right, Nostradamus?”
“You could tell? Right, you would have found out early on. It had been some time, after all.”
Blinking, the old mage who appeared to be now middle-aged laughed once even as he scrawling indecipherable words on his grimoire. “The precursor of the Diamond family had once intermarried with a diamond dragon of the Gemstone dragons as well as a golden dragon of the Metal Dragons,” he said quietly. “Their bodies even hold a little fairy blood—who knows how that bastard made a move at thumb-sized beings. One can’t tell since Israel has sublimated after ascending and becoming Legendary lifeform, but in fact every descendant of the Imperial Family is not of pure human blood.”
In reality, with its long history, there was basically no pure-blood humans apart from those Psion families in the West Mountains kingdoms. Nostradamus, however, left that unsaid. “Let me tell you one secret that isn’t really one,” he added instead, “the current Empress is a quarter—perhaps even more—golden dragon ancestry, as well as a distant relative of Israel’s, and their union is to ensure the purity of draconic bloodline in the Diamond family. Don’t tell anyone I told you that.”
Nostradamus’s did not appear worried even as he quickly spilled such facts because Joshua could have guessed it anyway, and neither was it necessary for the hierarchs to be so mysterious.
“No wonder…” Nodding thoughtfully, Joshua recalled when he first met the various princes and princess. “I haven’t met the Eldest Prince, although Dimore’s scent and talents are certainly unusual… There’s also a little smell of fairy about the Third Princess and the Sixth Prince, while Arlwa is a golden dragon? Such exciting tastes.”
And how are you any better? Nostradamus looked up resentfully at the warrior’s rather emotional critique. He first took a look at Ying beside them, before turning outside the window where the black dragon girl was playing a ball-throwing girl—with Light acting as the ball that was being thrown between a physical body and mana projection. Nostradamus could also sense the black-haired youth on the second floor as well as a whirling runic crystal.
There aren’t any humans apart from maidservants in this liege’s residence of yours.
Reluctant to head to the Void for a fight with Joshua, Nostradamus wisely refrained from saying that and closed the grimoire in his hand, sighing. “I’m almost done preparing as well; I’m returning to the Void Star-Observatory.”
“Well, safe travels.” Rising together with the mage, Joshua accompanied Nostradamus to the highest level of the liege’s residence. He watched as the mage entered a portal before turning to look around at the main city of Moldavia at the elevated level.
“I really don’t want to ruin this peace.”
Sighing lightly, Joshua watched his own territory—the main city covered in white winter snow that also turned the four satellite cities that were gaining their first outlines pure white. The accumulated snow had been plowed by specialized enchanted machinery that were recently invented to the outskirts and piled into little hills that Winter Fort Academy instructors and students altered into an icy theme park. Many parents brought their children to play there whenever they had the time, while the theme park also attracted many tourists from other parts of the Empire.
Anyone could enjoy the tranquility but not himself, for it was only he who was aware of the future who holds the possibility of maintaining this peace.
Somehow, Joshua suddenly remembered the man who was as pure as these boundless lands—the Sage, and his silhouette during his younger days echoed in his mind. The warrior thus could not help wonder inwardly: is this perhaps the thoughts of the Sage at the time?
It was perhaps a coincidence, perhaps a dictation of fate or perhaps a resonance in the first place.
As the portal suddenly quaked again and again, Joshua turned, believing that Nostradamus was abruptly returning. However, the person he saw was not a middle-aged mage who had returned to his peak, but a distraught blond swordsman and a purple-haired female mage who were holding two unconscious little girls.
Brandon cried out loudly the moment he stepped out of the portal. Swiftly noticing that Joshua was incidentally right in front of him, the Supreme-tier swordsman quickly calmed since he was a champion who had survived many a battlefield.
Suppressing his urgency, he said quietly, “There’s a problem with my Sage’s Legacy—the Dual Blades of Order!”